Monday, August 25, 2008

Wait for it....

Dear Readers,

Since it's Back to School season, I thought it was a good time to mention the two greatest lessons I ever learned, from the greatest woman I ever knew: my mom.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, I was four. I was four and turning five. I was four and turning a "very important number" as I recall stating emphatically on the very day I turned five. There was something magical about the age of five for me. Perhaps it was just because it was 'bigger' than four. Or perhaps it was half a decade (although I doubt I knew what a decade was at four). Perhaps I recalled my older brother being five at one time before me, and thought that was really "big."

Whatever the case, it was winter time and I was clumsily putting on the big rubber boots that went over my shoes, as children did in Montreal, Canada, in the wintertime...clumsily because after all, I was four-not-yet-five, and I remember looking over to my much-adored mother (who always enabled my independence and did not reach over to help me less-clumsily put on my boots- exactly as I would have wanted it) and said, rather excitedly: "I can't wait until I'm five. Five is a very big number."

To which my mother exclaimed, rather disappointingly: "Don't wish your life away."

And then exactly 15 years later, I wished her life back again. And remembered never again to wish my life away. Not a year. Not a month. Not a week. Not a day. Not an hour. Not a minute (with exception of getting my teeth cleaned and other unpleasant moments with people in white coats.) I do not wish my life away. 

But I do wish I were four-not-quite-five again. Just so I could ask my mommy for help with my rubber boots. Seems like I needed more guidance from her than I thought.

And then there was lesson number two, which came about five years later, when I was not quite a teen. My mother read a poem to me, which I did not know was famous, by a poet whose name reminded me of the Holiday season, Robert Frost. The poem was....

The Road Not Taken

She made me memorize it. And I did. Never knowing why. Still, today, not knowing why my mother, who did not necessarily choose her own road less traveled, chose that particlar poem for me to memorize. But I did:

I shall be telling this with a sigh   
Somewhere ages and ages hence:   
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—   
I took the one less traveled by,   
And that has made all the difference.

Now at 10 or so, I did not know there was a life-lesson here for me. But I did fall in love with the poem too. Perhaps because it was a gift from my mother. Perhaps it was the beauty and the rythm of it. Or the frosty warmth it evoked. Or the fact that I, other that just memorizing the poem, could actually choose a road less traveled. One day. When I was big-and-not-just-ten.

As an Aunt by Choice, I sent a girlfriend's daughter a list of things to think about as she turned 16. One of those lessons was to live her dream. And if she didn't know what her dream was yet, to wait for it. It was coming.

Two years ago, I did not have the dream to create But I knew I had a dream coming... and believe me, in my early mid late 30's, I was growing impatient for it to come, taking jobs I thought might be my dream job. But then I found myself year after year, job after job, taking the same road. Leading the same path.

Then one day, two roads diverged in my world: to keep the search for a job, sort of same job, different office, or forge out on my own... take the road less traveled.

My dream was before me. And I took it.

And for that very reason, there is no doubt, no moment, no week, no day, no minute that I wish my life away.

These are my lessons, for you, Dear Reader. If you find yourself wishing your work day away, take a walk. Find a woods. Begin your journey. Follow your dreams.

And if you do not know what your dream is yet, wait for it. It's coming.

And that will make all the difference.

Auntie Melanie

(Oh and PS, please vote for me to be in the Hot Blogger Calendar! Thanks!!)


  1. ugghhaahhcchh (that is the sound of the tension releasing from my lower guts!) You have no idea how badly I needed to hear this today! I spent the weekend with friends, all of whom are taking the road much travelled in our particular business, and found myself listening to their stories of a world I no longer inhabit. One night I woke up, my heart beating a mile a minute, my nerves urging me awake, wondering "am I making a huge mistake? Have I cut off my nose to spite my face? Should I return to the status quo world of waiting for other people to recognize our talents and pave the path to our dreams" (and all the second guessing, insecurities and personality altering that those choices call for)? Funny.. cuz "the road less travelled" kept weaving through my mind as I grappled with all the complicated things I was feeling this weekend. Thank you so much for your gorgeous words of wisdom!!!!

  2. Wow. I've never worried about whether I was on the road more or less travelled, but I have always been on the road I planned on taking. This summer I've been kind of following a weird road and I don't really know where it's headed. It's fun, but at times I stop and worry if it's productive. But then I take a breath, loosen my grip on the reins and let the universe speak to me. Today I think you were speaking for the universe. Great post. And your mom sounds like an angel.

  3. That's so funny - my age was six when I had a conversation very much like that.

    Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Such a beautiful posting from a wonderful writer! I think that so many women entrepreneurs take the road less traveled because while scary, the journey itself is way more rewarding.

  5. Wow, great post. I sent this link to some friends - great reminder that we must enjoy every day and minute of our life and truly pursue our dream along that road less traveled. By far one of my favorite poems - great post!!

  6. Love, love this. Thank you for sharing this story. I am feeling like something good is about to happen to me but just don't know what it is. I am too, wishing it were here now but you're right. Thank you!

  7. Shanink - it's coming... listen for it... Sometimes, our dream whispers to us for fear that if someone hears it, it will be squelched. So listen closely... it is possible only you can hear it.

  8. Melanie,

    As usual, beautifully written!
    A friend said that she can't wait until she is 50 so her children will be grown, and while I believe it was more of an impulsive statement, then her true nature, I felt pity for her, and that thought.. and try to embrace EVERY MINUTE, even as I am screaming, or continuing to live bad habits. I am a work in progress and ALIVE!

    Also I read a story from a holocaust survivor who found the note from her mother stitched in her clothing that she was rescued in. Written was how her mother felt about being with her daughter during her last moments before she gave her daughter (baby!) over to what she hoped would be 'safety'. This heartbreaking letter has minimized the amount of times I have allowed the thoughts of school starting tomorrow and the summer being too long to escape my lips. I always have it on my mind.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Melanie,
    Love your writing and this post is wonderful! You may not have thought about it from the perspective of your mom - she probably cherished every day of every age you were and wanted each one to last for as long as possible! I am mother to a two-not-yet-three year old who says every day "I'm a bigger girl," meaning she is bigger than she was yesterday and is very pleased about that because the allure of being a big girl is very appealing to her now. For me it means we are just one step closer to the day when we won't fit comfortably in the rocking chair with her sitting across my lap and her head resting perfectly on my chest. It is obvious that your mom made as great of an impression on you as did mine who passed when I was 22. Each day I wish she were here to see her granddaughter and be as amazed and bedazzled by her as I am. I hope one day when she is all grown that my daughter will be able to think of life lessons I imparted to her in the course of our little daily routines! I also hope I see my granddaughter one day! One of my favorite movies is still Dead Poets Society which is where I became aware of Robert Frost and the road less traveled.

  10. what a beautiful post...
    i also lost my mother at 23. she gave me 'Oh, The Places You'll Go' as I graduated college, and i know she is proud of the places i'm going. the darkest moment in my life - losing my mother - has most certainly forced a wonderous light in terms of living fully, having gratitude and humility.
    thank you for inspiring me with your blog, love it!


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